William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Faces

The trees are still bare, but their branches are a different color. The sky has changed, and although trees are not mirrors, I think they must reflect the images and light they do not absorb. Their sap, too, is rising, like blood just beneath the skin.

We know, of course, that even the moon reflects the light of the sun. Rocks, soil, terrain — moonlight is sunlight, gracefully transformed.

The sidewalks speak in this same manner, the rooftops, chimneys, and walls of houses, the highways, streets, and bridges that link one city to the next, the fields in between — nothing is silent, nothing stays the same. Everything is changing, and as it changes, it is being born again as something else.

The face you see in your mirror is another miracle. It is a reflection of a reflection — of your life and times and the place you live, and wherever else you roam. It is a reflection of what you think, of what you believe about yourself and about others, and of what it means to you to be alive.

A face is a story, told without words. It is a history that continues to unfold.

Yesterday I saw a man waiting at a crosswalk for the light to change. He was in his fifties and quite tall, and dressed nicely but in worn out clothes. My first thought on seeing his weathered, alcoholic face was that he was an unknown poet, a man who had been pushed by society and pushed too far, until the only thing he could do was wander around town with his latest manuscript tucked inside his coat pocket. This was his comfort and his pain — to hold the truth against the warmth of his own body, and for that truth to remain hidden.

To whom could he show his manuscript? And yet his face was his manuscript, and it was there for the world to read. He was proud; he had not given in; he had endured. He was still enduring. Once again, his need for affirmation and sunlight had driven him from his room into the street. I wonder — what did he see reflected in the faces of his own kind?

Songs and Letters, March 4, 2006

Categories: Songs and Letters

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